Serpent God Statue

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I had an assassin to trick two PCs (a druid and an alchemist) into drinking Chon Chon Elixir. (People with poison immunity are rarely cautious about such things.)

As a result, their heads fell off and their bodies became helpless.
But the Druid used Wild Shape, and the Alchemist managed to get someone to feed him a Gaseous Form extract.

My understanding is that one polymorph effect cancels the previous one, so their heads and bodies were instantly reconnected (somehow). Would you have ruled the same?

Added a mini-adventure to book 5 of Jade Regent after reading about this guy: Jakabu
The party thought they were attending a traditional spiritual ritual and were surprised when a Kaiju showed up. And then the ritual was sabotaged by the hopping vampire bad guy set up in the Eastern Journey Adventures/Road to Destiny plugin...

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Got through Book 4 of Jade Regent. I made the tedious final dungeon better by removing half the battles.

As a change from linear dungeoneering, I'm thinking of trying to sandbox book 5 by giving the party the general goal of building support for their cause, and I'll improvise ways to make use of the source material provided to work with their plans.

My modifications:

(1) Sandru was captured when the caravan battled the hobgoblins, staying behind to collapse a tunnel and prevent pursuit. This creates a vague sense of time pressure, without which the party can just leave the penance to rest whenever they want.
(2) Allow the party to explore the gardens as they please. All battles here can be avoided.
(3) Present the Araneas as a diplomatic challenge rather than having them attack the party.
(4) Floor 1: Keep the Withered Blossom Warriors at B2 and the hill giants at B6 (I had the hill giants at half health due to an earlier battle with the caravan). Omit the 4 Withered Blossom Warriors at B5. Have some hobgoblin troops (my custom versions that use regular attacks) supporting three Withered Blossom Warriors at B9. Keep 1 Hill Giant at B11. The leopards and boars were a diplomatic challenge for the druid. The boar fled up the stairs, and the swine shogun rode down the stairs, followed by a mini-troop of hobgoblins.
(5) Floor 2: Remove Water elementals; add some tunnels / underground river routes that made it possible to avoid this floor entirely. Maybe relocate Munasukaru's shrine to a place the party will visit, if you're looking for more ways to gross them out. (Warning: it's kind of hard to persuade a party, presented with a fort and a drawbridge, not to see it as a challenge that needs to be beaten because they're so used to content not being skippable...)
(6) Floor 3: Splash down into the pool at the entrance to the room with the Sisters and the giant fish. (This is quite a fun encounter, especially when the sisters start setting off the confusion traps on purpose.) Keep the Oni riding a giant gorgon. Have the rest of this area eerily empty, just dead bodies of pulverised hobgoblins, until the party finds the Destrachans.
(7) Floor 4: Skip the first two ogre mages. Keep the nagas. Keep the kyton / ogre mage encounter. (This is as far as I've got - remaining stuff is untested.) Make the hobgoblin lepers a potential diplomatic encounter. Other enemies can retreat to bolster the final encounter with Munasukaru - here we can add back in some Sisters / ogre mages / Withered Blossom Warriors, depending on how much challenge we want the party to face.

Maybe have Sandru explain to Munasukaru (before she dies) why she was left behind by Anamurumon. Otherwise Munasukaru is another of those NPCs with a potentially interesting backstory that is wasted because the party never learns anything about it...

That suggests that dead creatures wouldn't do bludgeoning damage, but could still do acid damage. Not specified in RAW, but might be a fair ruling.

The grapple check to escape would be fairly easy because a helpless creature has an effective DEX of 0 (though it apparently gets to keep its full STR bonus.) But in this case I felt like a Confused PC wouldn't do that.

A giant fish on 0HP swallowed a PC who was suffering from Confusion, then passed out from taking strenuous action while on 0HP. The only not-confused PC was wild-shaped into an orca.

This created a whole bunch of rules questions for me. Do you still take the same bludgeoning damage every round while you're swallowed by an unconscious enemy? Can you try to cut your way out as an 'attack nearest enemy' action while you're confused? Is it easier to cut your way out of a foe while it's unconscious?
Is it possible to rescue an ally by chewing your way in from the outside?

How would you handle it?

My interpretation on initially reading that rule was that a huge monster with 15-foot reach had to keep going until it was adjacent to the smaller creature, because that was the closest square (to the target), and because it feels more like a charge if it can't stop early due to momentum. That also meant the huge creature couldn't force the smaller creature to provoke in order to engage.

I suspect your interpretation is RAI, but I still hate the rule.

The restrictive but ambiguous wording of the Charge rules created the problem. "You must move to the closest space from which you can attack the opponent. If this space is occupied or otherwise blocked, you can't charge."
Closest to what? Closest to the enemy? Closest to where you started the charge from? Do you have to use the route that gets you to the closest possible point, or does it just refer to the closest point on your chosen route?

It's a lot easier to just ignore that bit of the rule...

Probably this post.
There was originally an image he made to go with it, but that seems to have disappeared from the internet

happykj wrote:
I not sure is it valid to hide inside a silent image or not.

I always thought it would make sense if you could hide in an illusion, but you'd effectively blind yourself because if others can't see in, you can't see out. That way it can be used, but without it becoming a level 1 spell giving you the benefits of greater invisibility for multiple allies while being unaffected by See Invisibility.

Anyone got any suggestions for making the final dungeon less of a slog?

I put my PCs through the Ruby Phoenix Tournament as a 'replacement', but I might as well let them fight Munasukaru as well.

The problems I'm trying to fix are that the dungeon is (a) very linear - exploration is really only interesting when there are choices and complicated loops and secret passages - and (b) full of 'filler' battles that seem to exist just to get the party some XP - and I'm not even using XP.

So to fix this I want to allow the party to avoid enemies (by creating shortcuts or sneaking opportunities), or giving the party the opportunity to avoid combat through diplomacy, or I could just remove the enemies entirely.

The thoughts I have so far:

* The goal of the dungeon is to defeat Munasukaru - after that the kami can handle the rest. So I can let the players know any battle the PCs avoid counts as a win.

* The hobgoblins have been engaged in a war of tunnels for decades so they can get out and go hunting for meat and prisoners. Akinosa's people have been collapsing the tunnels when they find them. There might also be extra tunnels connecting different levels, allowing for nonlinear exploration and shortcuts.

* Since Ameiko and the PCs have left the caravan to fight in the tournament, it's reasonable that the rest of the caravan got there first and has already been battling the hobgoblins via a tunnel - since collapsed. This allows me to kill off any boring weak enemies in advance.

Anyone who has run this recently - which parts of this dungeon are worth keeping and which should definitely be skipped? (I ran it ten years ago but the only thing I really remember is that the Destrachans could be really deadly if they make smart tactical choices.)

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Your DM might be one of those people who thinks puzzles in RPGs are a bad idea.

I've rebuilt my wannabe Empress into a pure bard, one level behind the PCs. Players are a lot more tolerant of escorting NPCs when they have useful buffs.

Still (re-)running Jade Regent. Have incorporated Ruby Phoenix Tournament this time. Tip for anyone running this module: When the adventure tells you to reward the party with a Potion of Stoneskin, before handing it out, first check you don't have an alchemist who can re-use the same potion endlessly, because that effectively turns a minor one-shot item into a major artefact.

eyelessgame wrote:
But I still can't quite get over the fact that a third level abjuration spell can, as its entire effect, provide 20 points of protection from sonic for one individual, but a second level illusion(glamer) - which, remember, "cannot produce any real effect" - provides infinite protection from sonic for an entire party, as well as completely nerfing a spellcaster who can't move out of the area and doesn't have the right magic item in hand.

If you use Resist Energy (Communal) v Sonic, it might only protect from a finite amount of sonic damage, but it has the major advantage that you can still use spells, bardic performance, etc. In the majority of encounters, silence inconveniences PCs more than monsters. And Resist Energy can be used to protect you from the more common elements instead.

As long as it works like a scimitar for gameplay purposes, you can imagine your scimitar is a rusty old kitchen knife. Nobody's stopping you.

The real question is, what are you expecting the GM to do about this? Do they have to say, "You find a +3 scimitar-sized falchion," instead of "You find a +3 scimitar?"

My players are more into role-playing than combat challenges. Plus, I already changed book 3 enough to add in some multiple-encounter days. For example, having removed the caravan combat mechanics, my Dead Man's Dome final battle against the undead hordes involved wights, skeleton archers, an undead mammoth, zombie wolves, ice elementals, the shaman from the village returning as a wraith, a Cold Rider, and a storm ghost smiting them with lightning. The alchemist actually had to worry about running out of fire bombs for the first time.

(Also, IIRC, in Forest of Spirits as written, there really isn't a need to do the big dungeon without resting whenever you feel like it. Just leave the dungeon and go back to the caravan.)

Nearly at the end of Book 3 of Jade Regent, my most heavily rewritten chapter yet. The Under Frozen Stars plug-in was, predictably, better than the main book. Currently trying to figure out where to add 'Ruby Phoenix Tournament' into Book 4. I've allowed the group to find a Scroll of Greater Teleport, so they can in theory zap themselves straight there once they find out where and when the tournament is taking place, as long as they're willing to temporarily abandon the caravan. Then I just have to figure out how much of the actual book to run, since a high proportion of it is linear dungeons full of unexciting encounters designed to provide XP for anyone still using XP...

There's quite a lot my party could do to affect things on the other side of the barrier. They've got Helgarval and Spivey, they've got alchemist bombs and summoning spells and archery. I suppose that might be a more interesting challenge than 'repeatedly cast Dispel Magic'.

Azothath wrote:
PCs could order/sell something very expensive through a contact and it could be imported/exported from Cheliax or Druma... which will take a significant amount of time.

You could pay a bit extra to have things teleported in - spellcasting services are cheap compared to the cost of buying a 50,000gp sword.

sirmaniak wrote:
They have a lot of money and they won't be able to spend it.

They can if you want them to. Come up with a narrative device to explain it, like a trader who has contact with a powerful djinn who might be able to provide these items. Then check what they want to buy and decide if it's OK or game-breaking. If it's game-breaking, it's not available.

Use pathfinderwiki for cities.

It's not unreasonable that a city would have some rich guys with lots of gold who'd be willing to buy your priceless magic items for a fair price, but which doesn't have a lot of expensive magic items readily for sale.

If the players want to buy a specific item that is beyond the limit you could do one of the following:

* Say no.

* Give them a small percentage chance of finding one.

* Allow them to order it if they're willing to wait, and someone will craft one or deliver it after a couple of weeks.

* Sell them a scroll of Teleport to travel to a city where they do have that item.

How the heck did a PC manage to die to a stationary defensive barrier? I'm imagining some kind of elaborate "launch self at it from a trebuchet" plan.

I assume you had a passage from the yeti caves into the final encounter room? I was wondering if it should just be a normal corridor or something where you have to go down a chasm and work your way along and up.

Running this again to commemorate the time I ran it ten years ago... I still don't understand the intended flow of the Uqtaal / Yeti dungeon map.

There is a direct path to the final encounter blocked by an antilife shell.

There is a side passage into the repetitive yeti caves.

Is there supposed to be a passage between the S16 final battle zone and the yeti caves around S15? As portrayed on the map, there's a slim wall separating them, so unless the PCs start tunnelling at random, there's no progress to be gained (except gems and XP) for exploring the main yeti caves.

But S10a says the PCs can circumvent the antilife shell by passing through the yeti caves, and the yetis must have a way around the antilife shell, so I suppose one or both of the walls separating the two parts of the map are a mistake?

Either way, the caravan doesn't look like it could get through the yeti caves, so I assume casting Dispel Magic on the antilife barrier is ultimately the only way to progress. Which again means that there's no practical reason to enter the yeti caves, unless you wanted to commit yeti genocide to make the final battle safer.

Not that the party knows this, but if they choose to explore the whole map (instead of 'just rest here until Koya can pass a Dispel Magic check'), they're going to eventually realise the whole thing was a waste of time.

Oh well, I suppose it doesn't really matter...

Bluemagetim wrote:
After the first round the witch uses conceal spell for a spell that has no visible effect but she has not run away and the cat is still there hissing. In this round her behavior is odd because its in conflict with the situation.

It's not particularly odd that a weak character would freeze up, hiding behind her protectors, rather than running off on her own into a dangerous wilderness.

To me the logic of the situation is, an NPC can feel that they're under magical attack, some kind of curse / debuff of unknown origin. They can reasonably be suspicious. We don't want these NPCs to always instantly guess the origin of the attack - that's not fair. We don't want these NPCs to never be able to guess the origin of the attack - unless they're all complete idiots. A Recall Knowledge attempt is reasonable in the context.

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Yeah, if having disadvantage on attack rolls against the party is a problem, target the witch or make the party save against attacks instead. Not that big a deal.

I've never been happy with arguments along the line of: if (character ability) is a problem, just (alter every encounter in the campaign to counter this ability).

I would rather ban (character ability), every time.

AwesomenessDog wrote:
Still no sources on those opinions house rules.

Claim: It's a spellcraft check that has the same modifiers as a perception check.

Source: The rule I quoted at the top of the comment.

Claim: Higher level spells do not have more noticeable manifestations.
Source: The spellcraft check isn't easier, there's no listed perception check modifiers that could be applied, there's no rule that says they do or what difference this would make, so saying that they do would be a house rule.

Claim: Spellcraft is used to identify spells from the manifestations.
Source: The FAQ. Q: "What exactly do I identify when I’m using Spellcraft to identify a spell? Is it the components, since spell-like abilities, for instance, don’t have any?" A: "many elements of the game system work assuming that all spells have their own manifestations"

Claim: Quingong monks use Spell-Like Abilities which have manifestations.
Source: The above FAQ and the Quingong monk rules.

Claim: Manifestations cannot just be a creeping sense of the unnatural.
Source: The spellcraft rule that says you have to see a spell being cast to be able to identify it.


If you're expected to play their supplement using Pathfinder rules, then the Type of the race ( link ) is important for the effects of various spells. From the flavor (elemental first-born fairies), you could argue they were outsiders with the elemental subtype, or native outsiders, or fey. Or the lack of a specified Type could mean they default to humanoid. It was never clarified as far as I can tell.

Identifying a spell as it is being cast requires no action, but you must be able to clearly see the spell as it is being cast, and this incurs the same penalties as a Perception skill check due to distance, poor conditions, and other factors.
Senko wrote:
Does it work like a normal perception check?

It's a spellcraft check that has the same modifiers as a perception check.

Senko wrote:
Do higher level spells have more noticeable manifestations?

No. There's no rule saying they do, so they don't.

Senko wrote:
If you need to be clearly seen does being partially hidden hide manifestations?

It can partially hides manifestations. If you're partially hidden in such a way that it would make it harder for a perception check to work on you, apply the same modifier to the spellcraft check.

Senko wrote:
Do magic items and consumeables like scrolls have manifestations?

Yes. Spells cast from objects work like spells unless otherwise stated.

Senko wrote:
Do non-magic magic users like the quingong monk have manifestations?

Quingong monks use Spell-Like Abilities. The FAQ makes it clear that these do have manifestations.

Senko wrote:
Since you use spellcraft to ID a spell is it used to notice manifestations?

Noticing manifestations is easy. Spellcraft is used to identify spells from the manifestations.

Senko wrote:
Are the manifestations glowing runes, glowing eyes, a creeping sense of the unnatural?

(1) Maybe. (2) Probably not. (3) No.

Because manifestations are visual clues that are hard to conceal without a feat.

Senko wrote:

Fine show me where this is written in any of the rule books, or the FAQ given manifestations can be a "chill on the neck".

This is a problem with the FAQ, I admit. A (house) rule that manifestations are visible light is a lot more consistent than a rule that manifestations can be literally anything. People could try to game the system by saying "my magical manifestations are my eyes turning black" and then saying, "I wear dark glasses so no-one can see my magical manifestations".

All we have to go on is:


These manifestations are obviously magic of some kind, even to the uninitiated; this prevents spellcasters that use spell-like abilities, psychic magic, and the like from running completely amok against non-spellcasters in a non-combat situation...

You can see some examples to give you ideas of how to describe a spell’s manifestation in various pieces of art from Pathfinder products

From the art, it seems like spellcasting emits a glowing aura.


Identifying a spell as it is being cast requires no action, but you must be able to clearly see the spell as it is being cast, and this incurs the same penalties as a Perception skill check due to distance, poor conditions, and other factors.

This suggests that manifestations must be visual, because if they could be some other kind of sensation like a 'chill' then you could identify a spell without needing to see it being cast.

glass wrote:
IMC the manifestation and the components all contribute to identifying spells. Spells without verbal or somatic get -2. Spells with no verbal and no somatic (including SLAs) get -5.

The (house?) rule I've never been able to decide on is how it works identifying a spell in the dark. If there are visual manifestations, and these are usually described as glowing sigils or magic sparkles, do those provide enough of a flicker of light to be seen and identified?

Senko wrote:
assuming you do have magic sparkles that means you should be getting penalties for distance, weather, crowds or anything else that would interrupt vision of the sparkles.

Same as if partial obstacles interrupted seeing the somatic components in a no-manifestations game. Same as anything else in the world. If someone lights a fuse on a bomb or a firework, would I be able to identify what they're doing when there's distance, weather and crowds involved? What's the DC of the Perception check? That's time for a GM ruling.

Senko wrote:
Magic sparkles do NOT exist in my game or whats the point of detect magic

Detect Magic, among other things, allows you to identify magical effects that are permanent (like magic items) or spells you didn't see being cast but the duration hasn't expired yet (since the magic sparkles are gone within a second or two). Still the best cantrip.

I've always played as if there were magic sparkles, and it's never caused any issues or broken any plots. A clever caster can cast from behind cover, or bluff casting something innocent to trick someone with no Spellcraft. An invisible caster gives away their position briefly, but they can move after casting.

Not having manifestations breaks the game more than having them does. Casters can just go around charming people in public without consequences, rather than having to make an effort to get that person on their own, or take feats and use deception skills. That kind of thing leads to caster-martial disparity.

Senko wrote:
can you sense manifestations when blinded?

No, because manifestations are visible magic sparkles.

Senko wrote:
If not why can you sense them with still/silent spell feats applied to a spell

Because still/silent spell doesn't stop the magic sparkles from appearing.

Senko wrote:
why can't you identify spells in fog or the like

Because ten feet of fog creates full concealment, which prevents you from seeing the magic sparkles.

Jade Regent progresses, slowly. I have kept two of my original players. I added the 'Baleful Coven' side-adventure in the appropriate place - it was good! I also intend to do 'Under Frozen Stars' - note to anyone else doing this, you're supposed to foreshadow it during book 2, which I didn't, though I've compensated by adding a diary to the Vegsungvaad's hoard pointing them in the right direction.

Memo to self: if ever designing an RPG system, make sure it's really easy to run interesting encounters, because if it takes planning (like having to look up all the enemy's spells before the session to see what they should cast), then you basically have to decide what your players will be fighting in advance, which reduces agency and spontaneity.

It doesn't help that Book 3 is 50% random encounters that are designed to use the boring and unbalanced caravan combat system.

Diego Rossi wrote:
The space doesn't exist in any dimension, so, how can the walls touch some other dimension?

The entrance to the pit is connected to the caster's dimension, why not the walls too?

(Though exactly where they'd be connected to is debatable...)

Diego Rossi wrote:
The sides of an extradimensional space aren't connected in any way with the normal universe.

Citation needed. An extradimensional space is "a tiny pocket space that does not exist in any dimension". I don't see any rules specifying what happens if you penetrate the 'sides' of that space. With a Bag of Holding, rupturing the sides causes everything in the space to be lost forever, but the pit doesn't say the same.

Treating Clerics as inherently wise makes sense if they are the chosen guides of the one true religion, but in a game world where they can equally worship gods of drunkenness, revenge or murder, it becomes a bit of a stretch...

A priest of Rovagug typically spends their day hunting beings and things to kill and destroy, saving only that which can be utilized in creating greater destruction. The hierarchy is based solely on raw destructive might, and to rise in the hierarchy, another must be thrown down.

Clerics use Wisdom for legacy reasons. It would have made a lot of sense for them to use Charisma to preach, recruit worshippers and entreat their deity for aid, but that wasn't what Gygax had in mind.

And Oracles get Charisma casting because Clerics don't.

Still running Jade Regent, now reaching the climax of book 2 (Night of Frozen Shadows). Had a potentially infectious cold, so for the first time ever I ran an online session, over Roll20.

It was easier than I thought it would be, though I had to spend some time screenshotting maps and cropping them to exact grid sizes before uploading them.

Sure, we can do the pedantic RAW thing if you like.

"When preparing spells for the day, a wizard can leave some of these spell slots open" - it at no point says that's the only way to achieve open slots, and 'open' would be a reasonable default state for newly acquired slots (since 'full' and 'used up' are the only other states we have and neither of those make sense), but let's ignore that.

"Later during that day, he can repeat the preparation process as often as he likes, time and circumstances permitting."
So he can repeat preparing spells for the day again after levelling up, and at that point he can leave the new slots open, and then he can prepare yet again and then he can fill these open slots? That's silly, but it's RAW.

"He cannot, however, abandon a previously prepared spell to replace it with another one or fill a slot that is empty because he has cast a spell in the meantime."
So the only slots that are unavailable are ones that are empty because he has cast a spell from them. This obviously does not apply to newly acquired slots.


The wording is irrelevant to intent, since this appears not to be a possibility the writer anticipated.

If I, the GM, am letting people level up in the middle of the action, then it's because I think the PCs need and deserve a powerup despite not having a chance to rest. Part of that powerup is that they get to immediately fill their new spell slots with whatever spells they want.

I'm trying to rewrite Suishen with the following goals in mind:
(1) As written, it provides unlimited protection from cold for everyone, which trivialises the entire next chapter of the AP.
(2) It can cast Air Walk with a huge duration three times a day. If anyone else in the party has any flight abilities at all, that basically means the entire party will (during a normal limited 'adventuring day') never again have to bother about terrain, ground-based traps, etc.
(3) As written, it levels up four times, when you defeat "an oni of the Five Storms" but these oni are undefined. I want to make it so it can level up more often (based on GM whim, probably giving out the first couple of increases early enough to help with Kimandatsu), and it gives interesting decisions about what new powers you want.

I'm thinking of making it so that all spells come from a single pool of charges-per-day - that way, you have to consider whether you want protection from cold, air walk, or anti-invisibility, as opposed to casually having all of them.

Is this reasonable? Is the choice of new abilities interesting and somewhat balanced?

Suishen, Guardian of the Amatatsu (Minor Artifact), +2 Defending katana
Suishen can cast one spell per day (from a shared pool of spell slots) for each level of Bond you have with it. For an Amatatsu scion, it starts with a Bond level of 4 and the first ability of each Path unlocked. Each time you increase your Bond level, you gain the next ability in the Path of your choice.
Path of Slaying:
1 Flaming (+1d6 fire damage)
2 Flaming Burst (+1d10 fire damage on crit)
3 Oni Bane
4 +3 enhancement bonus
Path of Vision:
1 Spell: Daylight
2 Spell: See Invisibility (given to wielder or one ally within 5 feet)
3 Spell: Invisibility Purge
4 Spell: True Seeing
Path of Resistance
1 Spell: Endure Elements
2 Spell: Resist Energy (cold)
3 Spell: Protection from Energy (cold or fire)
4 Spell: Resist Energy (any)
Path of Mobility:
1 Spell: Levitate (given to wielder or one ally within 5 feet)
2 Spell: Air Walk
3 +5 base speed for wielder
4 +10 base speed for wielder

It's magic. If that's not enough: it uses a piece of the original creature's body (containing their DNA) as a component. The old body's Strength, Dexterity and Constitution are somehow carried across to the new body, so why not magic dragon blood too?

My interpretation of the Legendary Games plugin is that the 'CR3 ogre encounter' with 5HP is trying to simulate having a single CR3 ogre attacking a caravan guarded by multiple NPCs, when Ameiko on her own could solo that ogre. It's reasonable that this ogre would be unlikely to do any real damage to the caravan. For an encounter where two or three ogres attack the caravan, you can resolve it as a CR5 or CR6 caravan encounter, which is a little more challenging.

I'd guess the driver working as a guard in town would get paid the higher wage in exchange for the annoyance of not getting to enjoy their leisure time in town because they're too busy guarding. But you could also work in fractions if you want. (0.33gp a day when driver, 3.33gp a day when a guard.)

There are other exceptions to the 'stackable bonus' rule.
"Most jobs provide bonuses on a caravan’s Attack, Security, or Resolve checks. These bonuses are considered circumstance bonuses—they stack with each other, but never to a total value higher than +5 per statistic. Any circumstance bonuses provided by travelers in excess of +5 on a particular statistic’s checks are effectively wasted unless the caravan has the Expert Travelers feat."

Yes, both those things sound right.

...but I dislike both subsystems and I'm not using either. Caravan combat is wildly unfair on the party - getting the rules right won't save them.

For a small group of not too optimised PCs, my advice would be to have NPCs who are approximately on the same level as the party, and simple to run. If you want the players to build any emotional connection to the NPCs, they need to spend time with them - which means giving them an NPC ally for a lot of the adventure. Kelda Oxgutter is a good NPC because she's useful, simple, and not so powerful that she overshadows the group. Spivey is pretty good because she can just hang around until someone needs healing, maybe do a bit of scouting when needed.

The big four are too powerful (and complicated), at least in the first couple of books.

The whole point of Spell Combat is that it gives you an extra (activity during a full-round action) that other classes don't get. It allows you to cast an extra spell while still attacking. If that's a touch spell, it turns that extra spell into an extra touch attack. With Spellstrike, you can turn that extra touch attack into an extra melee attack.

The Fighter can also get an extra melee attack, but has to take Two-Weapon Fighting and get a second (light) weapon, an investment the Magus doesn't have to make.

To someone playing that Fighter, it definitely feels like their Magus ally casting Arcane Mark is getting an extra attack.

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Katanas are much more average than that. Much, much more average than that.

I should know what I'm talking about. I myself commissioned a genuine katana in Japan for 486,000 Yen (that's about $4,000) and have been practicing with it for almost 2 hours now. I can now cut meat with my katana.

Japanese smiths spend anything up to three months working on a single katana and fold it up to sixteen times to produce adequate blades known to mankind.

Katanas are not quite as sharp as European swords, nor as hard for that matter. It's entirely possible that anything a longsword can cut through, a katana can cut through. I'm pretty sure a katana could eventually bisect a man with simple horizontal slashes.

Ever wonder why medieval Europe never bothered conquering Japan? That's right, they were too far away from each other. Even in World War II, American soldiers targeted the men with the katanas first because they were a sign of rank.

So what am I saying? Katanas are simply a sword that the world has seen, and thus, require stats in the P2e system. Here is the stat block I propose for Katanas:

Price: 2 gp; Damage: 1d6 S; Bulk: 1; Hands: 1; Category: Martial; Group: Sword
Traits: Deadly d8, Two-Hand 1d10, Uncommon, Versatile P

Now that seems a lot representative of the cutting power of Katanas in real life, don't you think?

tl;dr = Katanas need to do adequate damage in P2e, see my stat block.

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Update on Jade Regent campaign:

Made it to book 2 of Jade Regent. The party raided 'the farmhouse' and used various spells and intimidation methods to gain an advantage in a situation where they were outnumbered, and ended up forcing the enemy to back down. They've gained the info they needed to proceed, but it's made things kind of awkward: the PCs were probably supposed to murder them all. Now they've (a) missed out on a ton of loot, and (b) left witnesses who can identify them, which means they're going to get assassins coming after them.

Fortunately, I was very generous with the 'custom loot' you're supposed to give the party in book 1, so they're not going to be too far behind on party wealth. Maybe I'll have some wealthy assassins show up...

Occasionally I have all four players show up the same week. That's always exciting. The rest of the time, I'm glad I can throw in an NPC like Kelda Oxgutter to help out. (A shame the 'main' NPCs are too high level to routinely participate like this. It makes it hard to develop them as characters when they're rarely around.)

Unlike the first time I ran this campaign with a more progress-focused group that blasted through everything so fast the enemy never had a chance to respond, I've taken the time to read all about Kalsgard and think of ways to incorporate the setting. Maybe they'll challenge the High Skald to a poetry contest / rap battle...

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